GOP lawmaker: Prioritize refugee status for Christians fleeing ISIS

GOP lawmaker: Prioritize refugee status for Christians fleeing ISIS
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Rep. Dana RohrabacherDana Tyrone RohrabacherThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz MORE (R-Calif.) wants to expedite the process for persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East to seek refugee status in the United States.

Rohrabacher has introduced legislation designating Christians and Yazidis in countries under siege from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as targets of genocide. ISIS militants have been forcing Christians and Yazidis into slavery, beheading them and demolishing their houses of worship.

Under Rohrabacher's bill, Middle Eastern Christians and Yazidis would be eligible for expedited refugee and visa processing and given priority over other applicants for entry into the U.S. 

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"The alarm bell is ringing," Rohrabacher said. "Ancient longstanding communities of Christians in the Middle East are being murdered individually and in mass targeted for extinction."

He noted that other refugees fleeing from the violence brought by ISIS — in places such as Syria — have been able to find shelter in Europe.

"Hundreds of thousands of Muslims are finding safety and economic handouts in Europe. But what about the true targets of genocide? Where is their safe haven?" Rohrabacher asked.

President Obama has directed his administration to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees within the next year, as part of ongoing efforts to raise the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. to 100,000 by 2017.

So far Rohrabacher's bill has 14 co-sponsors, all of whom are Republicans.